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Journal Article

‘We Know the Aborigines are Dying Out’: Aboriginal People and the Quest to Ensure their Survival, Wave Hill Station, 1944

Geoffrey Gray
Health and History
Vol. 16, No. 1 (2014), pp. 1-24
DOI: 10.5401/healthhist.16.1.0001
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5401/healthhist.16.1.0001
Page Count: 24
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‘We Know the Aborigines are Dying Out’: Aboriginal People and the Quest to Ensure their Survival, Wave Hill Station, 1944
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Abstract

In 1939 an Australian anthropologist, W.E.H. Stanner, believed that the nation needed to examine the question of biological and cultural preservation of the Aboriginal peoples. In an attempt to address the issue a range of proposals were suggested, most concentrating on the provision of adequate nutrition, proper medical supervision, good conditions of employment, appropriately trained field staff with sufficient financial resources, and the creation of inviolable reserves. This paper is a case study of a northwest Northern Territory cattle station, Wave Hill, where a survey conducted by two anthropologists aimed to reveal the causes of population decline on Vestey owned cattle stations. Could these anthropologists devise a way that would see an increase in station labour without having to seek new labour from marginal areas—‘bush’ people as they were called? Could they provide an answer to the wider challenge of stemming population decline through improving Aboriginal health?

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